February 29, 2008

Men’s, Women’s Track Host Heps, Aim for First-Place Finish

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For months, the men’s and women’s track teams have been preparing for the Heps championships, the event which determines the Ivy League Championship. For weeks, the athletes discussed each meet as if it were merely a stepping-stone in the climb toward the indoor Heps. For days, the Red has been making certain that each of its athletes is in peak condition to excel at the championships. Now, the Red is just hours away from what they describe as the biggest meet of their season.
Cornell women have prevailed at both the indoor and outdoor Heps in every season for the past six years. Last season, the Red finished with 159 points, dwarfing second place Brown by an 88-point margin. Cornell is strong again this season and would like to demonstrate similar superiority to their Ivy League counterparts this weekend.
“It’s kind of our legacy,” said sophomore runner Jess Weyman. “I don’t think all the focus should just be on winning or losing. As long as everyone tries as hard as they can that’s all you really ask for.”
The Red will host the meet at Barton Hall. Many feel this is an advantage for the Red, as they will have fan support and are familiar with the track.
“Everyone’s just so excited,” Weyman said. “There are so many posters and we’re going to have so many alumni.”
“None of the other teams have ever competed at this track except the senior class at Yale,” Merrill said. “We have the majority of our meets every season at this track, so we know how to run on it. It’s definitely going to be a big advantage.”
Weyman, who was the meet MVP last weekend at the Marc Deneault Invitational, will be competing in the 200-meter dash, the 400-meter sprint and 4×400 meter relay.
“I expect to out-do what I’ve done so far this season,” she said. “I feel like I’ve improved in every meet and I want to keep that going, especially since this is the most important [meet].”
The men were unable to maintain their streak of Heps team championships at last season’s indoor competition. Cornell finished with 151 points, falling just short of Princeton’s 154. Cornell had five straight Heps titles — three outdoors and two indoors — before last season. The Red came back strong in the spring, winning the outdoor Heps championship for the fifth consecutive season.
“It’s extremely important [for us to win Heps],” said senior co-captain Aaron Merrill. “While it isn’t necessarily on the same competitive level as Nationals, it means the most to this team to win this meet. There’s a long history associated with this meet and people get the most fired up for it. It was the toughest experience we’ve had so far in track and field when we lost last year.”
Merrill, who will compete in the 60-meter hurdles, the 500-meter sprint and the 4×400 meter relay, anticipates a Cornell triumph.
“I expect us to win the meet,” he said. “That’s my main expectation. I expect people to go out and perform as well and better than they have all season. We’re not going to win if we don’t do that, but I do expect that to happen. People always bring their best stuff to the meet.”